Ask Dr. Miller: What does it mean to ‘Heal the System’?

Deep Healing emphasizes the systemic nature of healing. If a man strikes his wife, opening a large cut in her head, a few stitches and a little time will result in the closing of that wound—and there’s been some healing, but not a complete healing. More would be necessary to heal the trauma to the woman’s emotion. And, what about the man? He is not healthy; he is ill, as indicated by his dysfunctional behavior, and he needs healing work. Neither can heal alone, and come to a healthy balance. And then, the healing of the relationship is another thing.

Another example—a man is bleeding from the mouth. Only a fool would imagine that stuffing cotton balls in his mouth and bandaging it would solve the problem. Instead, he goes to the hospital, where an x-ray shows that he is bleeding from an ulcer in his stomach. We have a tendency to think of the ulcer as the disease, and might attempt to cure it by surgically removing it.

On the other hand we might take a history from the man and find out that each day he takes a dozen aspirin and drinks a fifth of Vodka. Suddenly we see that the ulcer was but a symptom, and although the surgery cures the ulcer, healing has not taken place and he will likely be back within the year with another ulcer. His behavior is the source of the symptom, and it might be wise to treat his behavior, not just his stomach.

Then we might ask why he is consuming these highly irritating substances—and learn that he feels great guilt for having been disloyal in an important relationship, that he drinks to relieve his inner pain and takes aspirin to relieve his hangover. If our treatment aims to help him learn a better way to deal with his inner conflicts, our healing is even deeper, as we aim ever closer to the source of his problems, which clearly extend to many levels of his system, not just the upper GI bleeding.

On the external level there are those relationships that need healing—our primary relationships, family relationships, and our relationships in our community or work place. In addition to these relationships, deserving as they are to be healed and brought to high levels of performance, we also know that our individual health cannot be maximized in the absence of healthy relationships. In fact, experiments have shown that a person’s health or disease is directly related to the quality of his/her relationships!

Please send your questions to [email protected]!

In Peace,

Ask Dr. Miller: What is Cognitive Dissonance, Stress and Negative Programming?

Ask Dr. Miller: Do we have a purpose?

Ask Dr. Miller: What is Presence?

Ask Dr. Miller: What is ‘Wellness’?

In our culture, we commonly think of ourselves as being “sick” or “healthy.” Generally, we define “sick” as having some sort of signs or symptoms of a disease (pain, swelling, fever, loss of function). We then tend to define health as simply being the absence of these signs and symptoms.

The concept of “wellness” recognizes that this is an inadequate way of looking at things. Wellness looks at the positive dimensions—a person moving toward wellness is gaining strength, reserve capacity, feels joy in life. Wellness indicates not only the presence of health, but also the ability to withstand the stresses that might otherwise lead to illness.

Ask Dr. Miller: What is the Systems Approach?

A friend asked me the other day what I was talking about when I referred to the Systems Approach.  Well, along with a shift in perspective from the Newtonian-Cartesian viewpoint, in a Systems Approach we begin to see the many things and experiences we have as not quite so separate. We notice that there are general patterns of organization that appear again and again in our experience. The pattern of veins flowing in from the hand toward the arm very much resembles the veins on a leaf, which in turn resembles the way the tree’s roots feed into its crown.

The same pattern can also be seen when looking down from an airplane at all the tributaries to a stream or river. If you look at a diagram of the Army, showing the path that information might flow on from a private in the field to a general back at headquarters, you’d see the same pattern. In one case, the flow is through human flesh, another past plant cells in a tube made of plant cells, and another is formed by the rocky banks of streamlets, or by soldiers and their communication devices along the chain of command.

Each of these is a different system, but the branching structure reflects a single basic pattern, which appears in each of them.

When we tune in to that aspect of the world that looks at similarities, rather than at differences, we are beginning to take a “systems approach” to the world. The study of systems may be called “general systems theory.” This approach to understanding recognizes two sets of counterpoised concepts that are crucial to understanding systems, yet are seldom explored in other approaches. They are emergence and hierarchy, information and control.

Health and Peak Performance require homeostasis and balance of our inner systems.

Ask Dr. Miller: What is Re-scripting?

Someone asked me the other day what I meant when I used the term Re-scripting. I mean that if we step outside ourselves for a moment, we can see that we behave as if we’re following a script. Often this script is automatic—we react or respond to people in certain ways, we have certain attitudes about ourselves, we engage or don’t engage in certain activities. Often we find that the kinds of behaviors, in other words, the kind of script, that we would like to be following is different from the one that we are, in fact, following on a regular basis.

Re-scripting means becoming aware of a behavior pattern in your life, then developing a new, more adaptive behavior pattern, and finally, teaching this pattern to the deeper levels of your mind (the ones that would, otherwise, behave automatically in the old, maladaptive way).

Ask Dr. Miller: How Does Inner Turmoil Create Illness?

Historians are fond of naming periods of time according to the most important inventions and tools of that era. So, we have the Age of Reason, the Age of Enlightenment, the Industrial Age and we’re now in the Information Age.

When historian John Galbraith was asked how our era would be known in the future, he said that it would be known as the time “when the Buddha came to the West.”

If he is correct, then perhaps the ever-expanding interest in Buddhism and Buddhist thinking, highlighted by the current popularity of the Dalai Lama, is a sign of this.

This movement is, I believe, a part of a much larger movement that is flooding our Western culture with notions of empathy, forgiveness, compassion, egalitarianism, and love. They are burgeoning forth, spawning books, workshops, movies, TV shows, and websites.

Information on the healing power of these forms of Love has never been so available: personal, relational, and communal lives can be transformed. Even laboratory evidence shows we are happier, more productive, and can more easily ward off infectious disease.

We Are the Leaders We’ve Been Waiting For

In spite of this, however, we are engaged in an epic struggle – personally and collectively. Our planet is poised on the edge of an abyss. False leaders everywhere unwittingly conspire with a machine-dominated, information-processing environment to lead us headlong over the cliff, into a vast abyss of disintegration.

Environmental pollution, global warming, economic globalization, war, terrorism – Violence of all kinds create widespread despair, helplessness, and hopelessness.

Our Grand Narrative seems to have reached a critical chapter.  Soon we all will be able to see whether those forces of domination, greed, and insensitivity will push us over the edge into a global collapse – or if a critical mass of us will adopt the New Paradigm. If we do, we may be in time to strike a balance between creativity and destruction, between separation and unification.

The denouement of our story is not yet clear, but we are very near the tipping point. The potential to go either way is there.

The the good news is that we – the people of the earth – have the unprecedented access to the enlightenment of Love and new tools of global communication, (ranging from cell phones to the Internet and social networking,) to actually take part in writing our own script.

More and more of us are realizing that the change that needs to take place in the world around us, from our personal relationships to the actions of our nation, is exactly reflected by the change that needs to take place within ourselves.

Can you imagine that the peace, wellness and vitality we want to see in the world will emerge as we create it within? If enough of us can imagine that – and act on that – and develop the integrity to actually commit ourselves to the change we all say we want, we can definitely do it.

I can imagine it. People everywhere are feeling called to come into the present moment, release those aspects of the past that no longer serve, nurture inner wisdom and love, and awaken “the leader within.”

We are transforming our own lives and opening to the experience of shared values and meaning. Each of us is a neuron in the emerging global brain, and our networked communities form a basis from which collective intelligence and collective wisdom emerge to create a transformed world of peace, freedom and Love.

Now is the time each of us must choose. My vision is that we choose wisely. What can love lead you to imagine?

When the hand of utter stillness opens the heart, time ceases.

Then, love is possible.

At the physical level, light;

At the mental level, consciousness

At the emotional level, love;

At the spiritual level God.

What is love? Hard to say. Plato believed that Love is the pursuit of the whole. In Our Culture on the Couch , I stated: Although ‘love’ is an excruciatingly overused and abused word, there is a common factor involved whenever it is used. In every case, the active principle has something to do with togetherness, attraction, unity and unification, a joining together in some way – be it physical, emotional, philosophical, esthetic or otherwise.

This unification is obvious in the example of sexual loving, or in the case of the love between the mother and the infant, or the love of a worshipper for a Higher Power.

And in sports, (or war), we see the same phenomenon of unity that permits one team to win against all odds –athletes will often speak of the love they feel for their teammates. Whenever a certain quality of wholeness is maintained – whether it’s of a body, a relationship, or a racecar – it tends to give rise to enormous power, performance and survival potential.”

Love Is a Way of Being

You cannot “do” love. There is nothing that you can do that constitutes loving someone. There is no action that is of itself loving. Love is a way of being.

Indeed, it is simply being — being with another person, however they may be – with no judgments, prejudices, or agendas. Nothing to demonstrate, no one to impress. You love when there is total acceptance of another’s being – born of your acceptance of your own.

Love (capital “L”) refers to the attractive force in our universe. It is the inner power and knowing that guides the carbon atom to share electrons with its neighbors, rather than steal from them.  It is the attractive energy that sustains the integrity of the membrane of the lowly paramecium and thus, preserves the life within.

Love binds together the cells and organs, and enables them to harmonize their functioning to produce health of the whole. Love makes birds of a feather flock together, and it inspires wildebeests to travel hundreds of miles in the spring. Love is the magic bond between lovers, between brothers and sisters, between dear friends – it is the key to empathy, compassion, and community.

The Love/Violence Continuum

Love is one of a contrasting pair of forces that lie at opposite ends of a spectrum, the Love (capital L) – Violence (capital V) continuum. If perfect Love is at one end of this continuum, then pure Violence is at the other end.

In truth, few of us will ever get to know perfect Love, (though sometimes the love of a mother for her infant comes pretty darned close), and fortunately, we will probably never know pure Violence.

But who of us have failed to experience people at different positions on that spectrum?

It is crucial to understand that the qualities of Love and Violence are not to be seen as “opposites” – that is, they do not “oppose” each other. They are simply extremes of a continuum that every one of us is on right now.

To the degree that we see the world through eyes that look for wholes, harmony, balance, peace and connection, we are using the both-and paradigm/worldview. This paradigm seeks to find the “we” in every situation.

On the other hand, those who see the world completely from a black-white, me-you, us-them paradigm overwhelmingly  tend to see a winner and a loser, a right and a wrong in nearly every situation.

B ringing Love into Our World

How can I become an instrument of Love? Cultivate it within until you are overflowing – then let it flow into the lives of those who are open to receive it. Remember, as Ann Morrow Lindbergh told us:

never think of love as something you can give like an armload of flowers. Some people give love like that – they dump it down on top of you, a useless strong-scented burden.

You can’t give love; love is actually that force within that enables you to give other things.  “It is the motivating power.  It enables you to give strength and power and freedom and peace to another person.  It is not a result; it is a cause.  It is not a product; it produces.  It is a power, like money, or steam or electricity.” Love has value when you can give something else by means of it.”

The highest forms of inspiration come from people who are experiencing Love in some form. The inspiration of top music, writing, dance, art – you name it –involves the metaphoric breathing in of the spirit, the arising of the quality of wholeness and relatedness. In other words, Love.

Love is the essence of what I use in healing, and is what I teach in class, in therapy, in World Café meetings. I strive to make it the guiding light in my dealings with my colleagues and coworkers. Everything I teach is, in its purest form, simply another symbolic representation of love, a vehicle designed to awaken the power of love in others.